Exercise vs. Dieting: What’s Better for Shedding a Few Pounds?

If you’re trying to lose a few pounds should you focus on an intense work out regiment or focus more on your eating habits? Thanks to a few new studies that recently were published the answer is becoming a bit clearer. While exercise is definitely a big helper in losing weight, it is becoming clear that focusing on your diet is the key. This doesn’t mean go ditch the workout regimen- it means exercise is going to help achieve your weight loss goals in a supplementary manner. A recent study in the PLOS One Journal is the root of this discovery.

Researchers ventured off to Tanzania to see how hunter-gathers maintain and/or lose weight in a place where men average a walking distance of 7 miles per day and females average 3. This tribe does not focus on their diet as a way of keeping in shape but rather is just extremely active. While there is no doubt these people look like they are in better shape than ‘Westerners’ (generally speaking), it was interesting to find out that their high level of physical activity wasn’t the driving force behind that.

What was discovered is that the Hadza’s (the tribe that was studied) average metabolic rate and the number of calories they were burning each day were actually at about the same rate as Westerners. To put it simply- even extremely active people will be adding on pounds if they eat whatever they like.

Dr. Timothy Church who holds the John S. McIlhenny Endowed Chair in Health Wisdom at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana stated “Calorie for calorie, it’s easier to lose weight by dieting than by exercise.” 

It has long been believed that by exercising you will speed up your metabolism and thus lose weight. While there is nothing to completely disprove that, these recent studies are beginning to show that exercise doesn’t vastly improve your metabolism as once thought.

Moral of the story: when trying to lose weight, focus on your diet and utilize a workout routine as a complimentary way to reach your goals. 

Sources: New York Times, PLOS One Journal